TOPEKA, Kan. – A man now accused of kidnapping and killing a Johnson County teenager was convicted 11 years ago of threatening his adoptive sister at knifepoint.
According to court records obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, a judge convicted Edwin R. Hall after he pleaded no contest to aggravated assault in May 1996 and removed him from his adoptive home. Hall was then placed in state custody. A second charge of making a criminal threat was dismissed.
Hall, 26, of Olathe, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith at a Target parking lot in suburban Kansas City.
The Johnson County district attorney's office said Friday that Smith was strangled with a ligature, although spokesman Brian Burgess would not say exactly what was used.
Hall's attorney, Paul Cramm, did not return calls seeking comment, and his secretary said he was not commenting. Cramm filed notice with the court Friday that he would be representing Hall and requested prosecutors' evidence against his client.
His adoptive parents, Carol and Don Hall, of Emporia, about 80 miles southwest of Edwin Hall's Olathe home, didn't immediately return a call placed by the AP. However, Carol Hall told The Emporia Gazette that Edwin did something when he was 15 that made the couple feel he was a danger to the family. She did not provide details of the incident to the newspaper but said the couple felt they would have to give up Edwin, whom they had adopted when he was 7.
"That was the last time he was in our home," Carol Hall told The Gazette about the incident that occurred when Edwin was 15. The Halls hoped then that someone would be able "to get him the help that he needed."
She said the family felt "sick and in shock" about the charges against Edwin Hall involving Smith's death.
Surveillance video shows Smith being forced into her car in the Overland Park Target store's parking lot around 7:10 p.m. Saturday. The woman's body was found four days later near a lake about 20 miles away in Missouri.
The knife incident wasn't Edwin's first brush with the law. He was placed under supervision in 1994 by a Lyon County judge for taking his father's truck without permission, according to juvenile court records. A year later, he was again placed under supervision for stealing cash and a tape recorder, the records show.
In 2002, Hall and his adoptive parents were sued in civil court by a Lyon County man who claimed Hall beat him the back of the head with a baseball bat, court records show. The man sought $50,000 from the family, but the case was later dismissed.
Carol Hall told The Gazette she and her husband, who have three daughters, adopted Edwin after reading a newspaper article about children available for adoption.
"I felt like we could make a difference, help someone out," she said. "I love kids. We took him into our home with the intention of adopting him."
However, she said Edwin had behavior problems that were associated with his early childhood. Some of those problems were evident during the time he lived with the Halls before the adoption.
"You think you can give them love and all those things they didn't get, like support. It works with some, but with him, it didn't," Carol Hall said.
Despite the family's best efforts, Edwin continued to have problems at home and school, she said, often being defiant.
After Edwin was removed from the home, the family didn't see him again until he called them about three or four years ago. Carol Hall said he seemed calm and in control of his life.
"I felt really good. I would have had no fear of him," she said.